Home Sports-Free College baseball: LSU falls to Tennessee in Super Regional opener

College baseball: LSU falls to Tennessee in Super Regional opener

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Once again, the LSU Tigers are one loss away from their season — and head coach Paul Mainieri’s career — being over.

LSU fell to No. 3 seed Tennessee 4-2 in Game 1 of their best-of-3 Super Regional Saturday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn.

Game 2 is Sunday at 2 p.m. (ESPN 2). If LSU wins, the teams will face off again Monday with a trip to Omaha and the College World Series on the line.

This will be the the Tigers’ fifth elimination game in the NCAA Tournament. In the Eugene, Ore., Regional, LSU (38-24) lost its opener then won four straight games to advance.

The sixth inning proved to be LSU’s downfall Saturday.

Benefitting from a stellar performance from senior starter Ma’Khail Hilliard, LSU led 2-1. Hilliard had allowed just three hits and thrown 76 pitches through five innings.

But Mainieri decided to go with freshman left-handed Javen Coleman in the bottom of the sixth with the top of Tennessee’s order, including two left-handed batters, due up.

Coleman struck out leadoff batter Liam Spence. He got two strikes on Max Ferguson then threw four straight balls.

Jake Rucker followed with a double and Ferguson advanced to third. 

Drew Gilbert hit a ground ball fielded by third baseman Cade Doughty, who tried unsuccessfully to get Rucker out heading to third before throwing to first. The throw was not in time and Ferguson scored to tie the game at two with one out.

Coleman walked Evan Russell, loading the bases. Luc Lipcius reached on a fielder’s choice, scoring Rucker. Jordan Beck’s single made it 4-2. Coleman then struck out Connor Pavalony with the bases loaded to end the inning.

“Ma’Khail gave us five great innings, and Javen Coleman was the right guy for that situation,”

Mainieri said in his postgame press conference. “Craziness happened in that inning.”

LSU threatened in the top of the ninth. Gavin Dugas led off with a single. Drew Bianco singled with one out to put runners at first and second.

Cade Beloso’s groundout advanced the runners. But reliever Sean Hunley struck out Jordan Thompson to end the game.

LSU finished with eight hits. Bianco went 3-for-4. Doughty went 2-for-4, including a solo home run in the second for the game’s first run.

Bianco’s aggressive baserunning gave the Tigers the 2-1 lead in the fifth. He led off with a single and advanced to second when Beloso was hit by a pitch. He then stole third and scored on a throwing error.

Tennessee starter Chad Dallas (11-1) allowed five hits in six innings with 12 strikeouts. Hunley gave up three hits in the final three innings and struck out four.

Hilliard struck out five. Coleman allowed only one hit after the sixth and finished with five strikeouts.

Rucker and Beck had two hits each for Tennessee (49-16).

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